TORONTO - Casey Janssen pitched well enough to give the Toronto Blue Jays a chance to win in his first two starts after returning from shoulder surgery, despite the regular contact made by his opponents.
In outing No. 3 Wednesday night the hits kept on coming against him but his ability to limit the damage ran out, as the Los Angeles Angels knocked him around early and often in an 8-1 victory.
"I was just kind of fighting everything tonight," said Janssen. "It just started off bad and didn't get much better."
Janssen (1-2) gave up three runs in the first on Bobby Abreu's two-run shot and a sacrifice fly by Juan Rivera, another in the third on an RBI single by Kendry Morales and one more in the fourth on Chone Figgins' run-scoring double.
Against a dominating Jered Weaver (5-2) that was big trouble for the Blue Jays (30-25), who didn't manage a hit until Adam Lind's double in the fifth and mostly alternated between looking hopeless and ridiculous at the plate all night.
The loss, before a sparse crowd of 17,127 on the 20th anniversary of the Rogers Centre's opening ceremony in 1989, dropped them to 3-2 on their current nine-game homestand.
"The less we see him the better off we are," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said of Weaver, now 5-1 with a 3.00 earned-run average in six career starts versus Toronto.
Janssen had been 2-0 in two previous outings versus his hometown team, throwing 15 1-3 scoreless innings, but this time he wasn't fooling the Angels (26-25), who won for the third time in eight outings. He gave up seven hits, five for extra bases, over four innings and never found a rhythm with any of his pitches.
Some ups and downs are to be expected as he re-establishes himself following surgery on his labrum last spring. Janssen's allowed 26 hits in 17 innings since his return while striking out just four batters, meaning when batters swing against him, they don't often miss.
"I feel comfortable (physically), I know I didn't have my best stuff tonight," he said. "But you're not always going to have your best stuff and you've got to get through these outings."
Added Gaston: "He missed a whole year, so there's going to be some getting used to and some mistakes he's going to make ... he has to come back and learn how to pitch all over again."
Things were completely opposite for Weaver, who struck out five of his first seven batters and finished with a career-high 10 overall over seven innings of one-run ball.
He also stuck it to the Blue Jays last month in Anaheim, when he allowed just a run on three hits in a complete-game, 6-1 win.
"He steps at you, throws across his body and has good control with his breaking balls," said Jays DH Kevin Millar, who was 0-for-3. "He throws a really good changeup that most righties don't throw to righties, along with a good slider and curveball, and spots his fastball.
"He does just enough to give you an uncomfortable at-bat for a right-hander."
Toronto's right-handed hitters went a combined 0-for-19 against Weaver, with only the lineup's two lefties able to do any damage.
Lind's double to start the fifth was the first hit against him and the Blue Jays left-fielder came around two batters later on Lyle Overbay's double to the right-field corner. That was all the offence of note.
"I thought our guys took a lot of first-pitch fastballs, I would have liked to see them probably get on that first pitch a little bit more," said Gaston. "I don't know if the guys don't pick him up well, he's 90, 91 miles an hour so that's not overly fast. Whatever he's doing, let him go do it somewhere else. ...
"The way he's throwing the ball against us it looks like he should be 10-2."
The Angels choked off any hope for a late Toronto comeback with a three-spot in the eighth, helped along by a Scott Rolen error that turned what looked like a double play ball into runners on first and second for Jesse Carlson.
One run scored on Erick Aybar's RBI single and two more counted on Abreu's double that a fan scooped up, making it 8-1. Aybar was allowed to score from first on the play as the umpires ruled he would have made it home even if the fan did not touch the ball, despite the protestations of Gaston to the contrary.
The rubber match of the three-game series goes Thursday afternoon, when Brian Tallet (3-3, 4.26) starts for Toronto against John Lackey (1-1, 6.05) for L.A.
Notes: Reliever Dirk Hayhurst joined the Blue Jays after having his contract selected following Tuesday's game when Brian Wolfe was optioned to triple-A Las Vegas. Manager Cito Gaston said Hayhurst might have made the team out of spring training if not for a contract rules technicality that prevented him from being brought up before May 15. Gaston envisions using him to pitch an inning or two at a time. ... The Angels sat 2B Howie Kendrick, whose base-running blunder Tuesday was described as "disappointing" by manager Mike Scioscia afterwards. Scioscia said the day off was unrelated during a curt pre-game session with reporters. ... Avril Lavigne threw out the ceremonial first pitch.